Nassa’s (115lb) final stretch surge – home in 22.88s – was enough to nick the spoils by a head and produced a new benchmark time for the distance at 1m 45.41s. Time Warp (123lb), conceding 8lb to the winner, held on for second with his Cruz-trained stablemate Romantic Touch (122lb) third under Douglas Whyte. Millard’s Horse Of Fortune (131lb) fought on to claim fourth.
“I got a good buzz out of that! At the top of the straight I thought I was 100/1,” said winning rider Chad Schofield.
The Dynasty entire, a 7.9 chance, settled handily in mid-rank as Joao Moreira dictated the pace on the even-money favourite Time Warp. The strapping leader kicked on at the top of the stretch and with 250m to race it looked to be a question of how much distance Moreira’s mount would put between himself and the field.
But within a handful of strides the outlook changed. Nassa, G1-placed in South Africa and carrying a feather weight, began to advance as Time Warp’s effort in setting strong fractions started to show.
“When I angled into the clear at the top of the straight, I had a lot of work to do and I thought Joao was out of reach because he’d pinched such a margin,” Schofield said. “But the more I got stuck into my bloke he just kept building and building and building. At the 200 (metres), although I still had many lengths to make up, I was confident that I was going to get there because my horse just kept mustering underneath me.
“He showed a fantastic turn-of-foot. I know he had bottom-weight but it was some turn of acceleration.”
The Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse was Nassa’s fifth start in Hong Kong, and, having had only six outings pre-import, Schofield is confident there is more improvement ahead.
“He’s had four runs but we hadn’t seen his true potential here before today,” the rider said. “Obviously, there’s been a bit of hype about him but he hasn’t been able to show it due to bad luck and so forth. We saw what he’s capable of today and it’s exciting for the future.”
Millard claimed a race-to-race double when the Derek Leung-ridden Gorgeous King won the next.